graffiti artists give the best gift one could think of to a supportive community

a team of graffiti artists hit the jamestown streets and added some inviting hue to their walls between the 6th and the 8th of may. it’s such an admirable gesture of making such decorous art in the jamestown community with a project they call meeting of styles but most importantly the collective left a mark of embedding motivational statements and symbols like freedom, pain-gain, teshie-rise, etc in the spirit of revival or positive progressive activation for those who come into contact with the work.

it’s not really clear who among the creative lot brought up this great idea, but it’s certainly crystal each of the vibrant and prolific street artists participating in this genuinely ingenious activity of giving back to the people living in spaces usually termed as urban slums have left some inspiration which will live after their names. over the years in ghana, graffiti has grown in popularity as a very catchy street art form and neighbourhoods as well as art festivals and events have seen the magic via the splash from the guts of spray cans.

“[it is] an introductory graffiti art event by the ghanaian crew; ghana graffiti. the crew is set to challenge societal defects using street art as a medium to communicate with the citizens of a disturbed biome. altering physical spaces with thought-provoking and creative content for social change and aesthetics is the function of the crew even as the members individually address various topics of a changing world. the graffiti crew hopes to be an artistic body of exclusively street artists pushing ghana beyond corridors;” ian kwakye; a digital graphic artist and entrepreneur from the street style virtuosi collective who put together meeting of styles expounds.

the global art village has seen the unprecedented influence and commercial success of street artists over the years. one can easily identify whiz kids banksy or shepard fairey who is also the founder of obey clothing. the overall implications for urban art across board has shifted from an era where they drew controversy due to their methods of display; to presently where we find forms like graffiti being used to add taste to private property. now, we bear witness to how the channeling of iconographic street art opens new platforms and possibilities for expression of ideas for youth from ghana and beyond.

illustrator and visual social commentator, also from the meeting of styles project; bright ackwerh, describes the work as “an overture of a sort to a series of social engagement graffiti/mural projects by several artists who express themselves with the graffiti/mural/street art medium in ghana.” the integral group is made up of friends and long time collaborators moh awudu, kali, deff, ian kwakye and himself.

the project looks to be a mobile entity to convey this spirit of dynamic science to spaces they identify and subsequently occupy with their vibrant incentives to awaken the people and motivate them. “the main idea is to go to different spaces and leave them inspirational messages via the artwork and the interactions we have with the people from the space;” bright reiterates. “also, the people of jamestown are dear to us because for the last 6-7 years they have opened their space to the art community of ghana and that place has become an artist haven as much as a socio-political historic site;” he continues.

jamestown has been the home of west africa’s biggest street art festival; the annual chale wote festival which comes off in august- 18th to 21st this year. the festival has opened doors for the youth from all corners to collaborate, capture and consolidate fusions, new forms of craft and experimental installations and performances and looks forward to break its previous record of bringing together more than 20,000 people in 2 days to indulge, observe and document street art from ghana.

bright expands the theme he worked on and relates it to the general disposition of the population as well as the drive of the collective, by saying: “however we felt the space wasn’t developing as much as it could. The mental drive there is pretty strong but not strong enough to cause quick change to the environment. my piece kw3: teeshi rise is my message to the space, like: wake up! get up! realize you are so low you are killing yourself. learn, come out of your yourselves and fly! teeshi is ga language loosely translated as rise. i borrowed the literary aesthetic from accra[dot]alts usage of names like dzala butik (he laughs). I feel if we really want to feed someone, we digest the meal to their ingestion level and give it to them because at this point our fervor is to see them eat.”

aside street art’s ability to transcend the subversive and enter the accepted mainstream, don’t we find it interesting here as it’s amiably being used as a tribute to a community which has supported the growth of a contemporary language and voice of the aware youth?

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Author: Kwame 'Write' Aidoo

Kwame Aidoo, also known as Write is a fond reader, writer and lover of music and the arts, with a degree in Biochemistry from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Tech., Kumasi and a certificate in Cultural Organizations in Transition from University of Lüneburg. He founded the creative activism movement: Inkfluent which curates Slam Ghana, The Write Experience, Vocal Portraits poetry albums, Slam Lab and the biggest literary festival in Ghana; Nkabom Literary Festival. Aside Ghana, where he is based, he has shown work in Brazil, Togo, Austria, France, Benin, Germany and Burkina Faso and most recently Norway with Aurora Ekvatorialis; a light sculpture and texts collaboration with Norwegian artist Toril Johannessen, exhibiting at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, 16.9.2016 – 15.1.2017.

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